Meet Peter Henlein, Inventor of the World’s First Watch

When wearing a watch, have you ever thought about who is the most creditable person who invented this portable timepiece?

Introducing is Peter Henlein who has been recognized as the inventor of the world’s first wristwatch. Although the invention of the clock has a long history before it, he developed the watch because he worked as a locksmith early in his career.

Then, how was Peter Henlein’s life journey until he finally succeeded in making watches which are now essential items throughout the world? Check out the following information!

1. Peter Henlein’s personal life

Henlein was born in 1485 and grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, with his family who worked in the iron and brass industry. His father was Peter Henlein I, a blacksmith who married Barbara Henlein, the daughter of a gunsmith and blacksmith.

Henlein also had an older brother named Herman Henlein who was a butcher in 1496. During his lifetime, People Pill mentions that Henlei married three women at different times, namely Kunigunde Ernst as the first wife, Margarethe the second, and the last with Walburga. Schreyer.

Apart from the information above, not much is known about the personal life of the man who is usually called Henle or Hele.

2. The accused became a murderer and secluded himself in a monastery

As a youth, Henlein tried his hand at an apprenticeship as a locksmith. At that time, locksmiths were among the few craftsmen with the skills and tools to enter the watchmaking field.

On September 7, 1504, Henlein got into a fight in which a fellow locksmith, Georg Glaser, was killed because of the fighting. Henlein became one of the accused and applied for asylum at the Franciscan convent of Nuremberg.

Writer Ullrich Schmidt explains, during his exile there, Henlein likely gained a deeper knowledge of the craft of watchmaking. Henlein’s monastery is a magnificent building that became a historical place for mathematicians and astronomers to produce works.

Thus, during his exile from 1504–1508 in the monastery, Henlein not only grappled with new techniques and tools, but also came into contact with the spiritual and intellectual spheres associated with his craft.

3. The invention of the first wristwatch

The invention of the first wristwatch

In 1505, Henlein made his first watch, the Watch 1505, a gold-plated pomander. Then, in November 1509, he became a master in the locksmith union of the city of Nuremberg. Henlein came to be known as the maker of portable inlaid brass clocks with spring power, which were very rare and expensive.

Where it was worn among royalty as a fashionable accessory such as a pendant or attached to clothing, it was known as a pomander watch. It is the watch that is considered the world’s first watch, even though it is more than three inches long and cannot fit in a pocket.

Henlein is said to be the supplier of small, spring-acted clocks, which are given to important people as gifts. It also made Henlein the first craftsman to make the dial into ” Bisamkopfe “, a small case made of precious metal for perfumery or disinfectant.

4. Earn awards and fame

The first historical award Henlein received from his invention of the portable wristwatch was given by an influential figure in 1511. A contemporary humanist Johannes Cochlaus in his brief description mentions Henlein as the first person in Germany to realize that wristwatches could be worn on the body.

In his lifetime, Henlein made many watches and instruments. The pay he received could reach 15 florins (1 florin is worth between 140–1,000 modern US dollars) for a gold pomander watch. His customers included the upper classes of the 16th century such as Martin Luther, Kaspar von Schoneich, Frederick III, and the Elector of Saxony.

As reported by Trento , Henlein is not documented as a well-known watchmaker and watchmaker before 1520. The city of Nuremberg records Heinlein’s name as a contractor and payee after the 1520s onwards. He also made a large clock tower for the castle of Lichtenau which brought him a high reputation and prosperity.

5. Nicknamed the “Father of the Modern Clock”

Father of the Modern Clock

Henlein became active as a clockworker around 1541, and he was consulted on the reconstruction of the church tower clock in Hersbruck. Henleine died in August 1547 and is considered the inventor of the pocket watch by the world watchmaking community.

Henlein is now dubbed the “Father of the Modern Clock” although he was not the first locksmith to design small clocks or be responsible for the invention of the master spring lock. In 1903, a statue of Peter Henlein was dedicated in front of the German Watchmaking School in Glashutte.

His reputation as the inventor of the watch emerged as a popular consciousness after the novel ” Der Nurnberger Sophokles ” by Karl Spindler was published in the 19th century. Citing Alchetron, the work was also made into a 1939 film and a likeness appears on German postage stamps of 1942.

Such is the life journey of Peter Henlein, who started from a locksmith to become the inventor of the world’s first watch. His contribution is very meaningful for the development of the modern world watch. Share this interesting story so that more people know, OK!

Leave a Comment